Researchers develop DNA sequencing-based method to detect brain tumor

A Chinese-led research team has made a breakthrough in the detection of brain tumors by using sequencing of patients’ tumor-deprived DNA.

Brainstem gliomas are tumors difficult to cut out and have limited treatment options due to their location in the brain.

The disease occurs frequently in children and people with it survive for less than one year.

In spite of numerous clinical trials, chemotherapy has proven ineffective.

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Traditional methods to obtain tumor tissue include surgery and biopsy for examination, but they are risky, painful and costly.

Researchers from the Beijing Tiantan Hospital, along with the Duke University Medical Centre of the U.S., found that sequencing of circulating tumor DNA, or tumor-derived genes, from the brain fluid, could help gain tumor genetic information and track tumor progression.

“But the sequencing method is cheaper, faster and less invasive.

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“It would bring revolutionary changes to the diagnosis and treatment of brainstem gliomas in the future,’’ lead researcher Zhang Liwei said.

Helmut Bertalanffy, director of the Department of Vascular Neurosurgery at the International Neuroscience Institute, said that the research was “an enormous help for patients suffering from such kind of tumors,’’ and could “replace the surgical intervention for biopsy.’’

The research was recently published in the international journal Acta Neuropathologica.